SpaceX Ridesharing Is Half the Price to Sun Synchronous Orbit for Small Satellites

SpaceX’s SmallSat Rideshare Program will provide small satellite operators with regularly scheduled, dedicated Falcon 9 rideshare missions to SSO for ESPA class payloads. This will be as low as $2.25 million per satellite for up to 150 kg of payload mass.

This will hurt satellite rideshare arranging company Spaceflight Industries and small satellite rocket providers like Rocket Labs, Virgin Orbit, and Vector.

Unlike traditional rideshare opportunities, these missions will not be dependent on a primary. These missions will be pre-scheduled and will not be held up by delays with co-passengers.

For payloads who run into development or production challenges leading up to launch, SpaceX will allow them to apply 100% of monies paid towards the cost of rebooking on a subsequent mission (rebooking fees may apply).

41 thoughts on “SpaceX Ridesharing Is Half the Price to Sun Synchronous Orbit for Small Satellites”

  1. It must have something to do with being the coloniz”ee” or the coloniz”or”!
    (edit: and I like “settlement” for the bigger stuff, where one would actually settle down)

  2. Whilst I disagree on the timeline, I would like to make a broader inquiry. Are we not going to go as fast as possible no matter what the time projections?
    Given that, if O’Neill is *true*, it is always true, no matter how long and hard the task. Thus we are on the wrong train whenever we make a decision (a stop, as it were) based upon going to frippin’ Mars! We wasted 40 years NOT going to the Moon dreamin’ of Mars First/Direct/Only, for example. Musk’s use of LNG rather than Bezos’ H in Space stages may be huge, considering refueling with lunar H2O rather than Mars CO2. Now, Musk can win sub-orbital with his *second* stage, but that is beginner’s luck, a secondary use.
    We should carefully consider O’Neill’s outlook (edit: go around launch, don’t wait for cheaper, altho that certainly helps!) at every stage, given the counter-intuitiveness of it!
    As for the timeline, Al Globus ELEO plus Musk’s Mars rocket looks like a good start to me. Put his 1,000 seat suborbital on top of the booster, go to Bigelow in the sky. Once started, O’Neill’s plan can be explosive. Especially if big energy bucks come in to do Criswell LSP, as a global heating international imperative.

  3. Whilst I agree that O’Neill is the future of space colonisation, Bezos is going to be long dead before large numbers of humans are living in space. Living in space is going to be much more restrictive that living on Earth, and much more expensive, for many decades to come. Reusable rocketry will not reduce cost enough for space colonisation. We need a larger technology shift. Maybe beam assisted launch would help. It might take something like space fountain technology to get to significant space colonisation. If that happens, solar satellite energy beamed down to Earth might be much cheaper than coal and inexhaustible.

  4. I’ve never used PayPal personally, all my dealings are facilitated by old school “banksters”.

    You tend to see everything through a particularly insular lens. PayPal isn’t being your mommy or friend and they have no desire; In fact, they couldn’t care any less about you or what you do, as long as it has absolutely nothing to do with them.

    PayPal et al, have and do exercise their right to not financially aid, abet or associate with activities they find objectionable or could harm them, for reasons ethical(joke, but some do) or otherwise($$).

    Reasoning with people does not work, begging/pleading with them does not work, the only thing that has every work is the threat of restricting their money. The only reason people have moderated their excesses through the ages is the implicit threat to their money. You don’t have to stop, you can continue harming others or engaging in whatever undesirable activities that are negatively impacting society, but you cant do that and still be allowed to freely participate in the benefits of civilization.

    That’s your ticket to ride, no free riders allowed.

    Remember, you can still disagree with things without making everything out to be some cartoon conspiracy.
    The more accurate you keep that model of the world you have in your head, the better you will be able to navigate the real thing. Like so many of the hopeless and desperate masses, you will never get anywhere if you allow that model to become a Dalí-esque cartoon.

  5. Look, when I first got my PayPal account, they advertised as a way of facilitating money transfers, and NOTHING ELSE.

    Then, a few years later, they decided they were my mommy, and that they wouldn’t make money transfers they disapproved of, even if they were perfectly legal. For instance, they won’t let me spend my own money on anything gun related.

    Why, they even cut off accounts they find are associated with fund raisers for causes they dislike.

    Now, maybe you want a financial service company that dictates what you can spend your money on. Maybe some segment of the market even wants it. But if a company is going to be that company, they should advertise as it, not run a bait and switch.

    What’s going on here is that the left looks for positions of power, finds it’s way into them, and then abuses them to dictate the details of other people’s lives. That’s all: They’re aggressive control freaks.

    That’s not admirable, and objecting to it isn’t “wanting to be exempted from inconvenient reality”. It’s wanting the companies you deal with to stick to their business and not attempt to dictate your life.

  6. I will admit I’ve had disputes with Paypal.

    The most amusing one was a business account. The business wound down, the stock sold off, all the accounts payed, and then the paypal account closed and the business deregistered.

    THEN, one of the last customers claimed that he never received his product. A product that he had personally picked up, but there was no clear signed proof he had done so. I won’t go into the details, but Paypal ruled that the refund was needed and so took the money out of the account. The closed account with no money left in it… so now there was a debt.

    PP. “You owe us this much. Please pay immediately.”

    Us “Yeah, whatever. Not worth disputing any more. How should we pay?”

    PP. “Pay into your account.”

    Us “Account is closed. No longer accepting payments.”

    PP. “Pay now.”

    Us. “Please send details of account to pay to.”

    PP. “Reopen the account. Send evidence that the company exists to reopen account.”

    Us. “Company doesn’t exist. Closed down. No longer registered.”

    PP. “Pay now.”

    After about the 5th cycle through they gave up. It probably cost them (and us) more money than the debt to chase it up. But it was ridiculous how they had a procedure… which didn’t fit reality… and they COULD NOT solve the problem. Round and round in a circle like a poorly programmed roomba.

    The first time through I was trying to explain the facts but after that I was just resending the same email as last time we went through that stage in the process.

  7. Much beyond leo, currently, the only paying customers are a Japanese hippy and various national space agencies. The trains will not be leaving any station without a paying customer.

  8. Far too many include every inconvenient reality they want exempted under the banner of politics, from physics to pedophilia. If some entity chooses not to associate with some despicable individual, you’ll cry they’re being discriminated against due to their politics.

    The freedom of association is recognized by the courts as a fundamental right, and corporations are people.

    If a reduction in the expression of traits such as irrational/inept/wicked/vile are desirable, you must tax them heavily at every turn.

  9. That’s basically my understanding, then the new management decided to be another Western Union, only more controlling. We use XOOM (Now owned by PayPal) for international money transfers, and it works great, but it only works great because the people running PayPal don’t have any ideological objection to who we’re sending the money.

    If they did, they’d refuse to process the transaction, or lock our money up for months, or something like that, because they think of themselves as only being in the business of facilitating transactions they approve of.

  10. My rough grasp of Paypal history is that it was originally supposed to be something like the later cryptocurrency movement. It was supposed to be a way for people to do an end run around the banks via the internet.
    Of course it didn’t work out, and (the story goes) they got caught by an economic downturn and decided to take the money and find another way to change the world.

  11. I’m rooting for the smallest launchers, I think the market is better off with more small players and more diversity in it. But it’s up to them to respond convincingly to this by finding ways to reduce their own costs and develop their own advantages. If they manage to do that this could be a blessing in disguise. The alternative is controlling the market. Now… I’m a proud ‘leftist’ (go ahead and shoot ‘brave patriots’, evidence based truth doesn’t care about your violence and anger) and, yes, you have to control every market to some extent, eventually: If you treasure equality of opportunity and want it to last you have to put limits of how widely people’s outcomes differ, and police the market. But we’re not at that point yet with this market imho – this could be a move by SpaceX that shows the free market at it’s best and stimulates a new round of innovation and cost reduction from all quarters. 5k / kg to orbit or better is the goal, and at this point limiting the actions vendors can take would, I think, be counter to that goal.

  12. Pegasus rocket (443 kg payload) was $90k/kg. Don’t have data handy for the other small launchers.

    The Space Shuttle didn’t sell flights very often, but if you take the annual operating cost of the program vs. kg cargo to orbit, you get around $23,500/kg.

    Note that a Falcon 9 rideshare means SpaceX is eating the cost and payload weight of the adapter structure.

  13. And a small point, but may be important for popular outreach efforts. “Colony” has bad connotations. “Habitat” or almost anything else is perhaps better. There is even a treaty stating this!
    (edit: now that I think of it, “colony” is a good thing in US, as in the orig 13, but not so good for most of the Earth)

  14. Thanx for these recent ideas! Some regard me as over the top in support of LSP:
    (which has the text restored after about a week of graphics only. )
    But I have no particular love of SSP even, let alone LSP. I LOVE O’Neill! Anything to get there ASAP I will support.
    But there is also a concern for global heating. Problems lead to opportunities. We *may* get support for SSP if we can supply a plan for at least 10 Tw-e soon, 20-200 Tw-e eventually. LSP does that. Anything less or slower, and it is no global heating solution, so no related big support for that non-solution. LSP is a global energy project, that PAYS big if done, not just a cool Space project that needs funding. And it is BIG. Far better than other Global heating solutions, IMHO, particularly Earth limited. And it gets O’Neill started faster than any other idea, if it is done.

  15. The question is what to do now, not what can be done eventually. I fought Mars Direct/First/Only for 40 years based upon lunar ISRU arguments, not O’Neill, because so few seem able to understand O’Neill. O’Neill was MY reason to be against Mars ONLY effort, which was the plan for all those years. Both reasons are valid for lunar ISRU, but one still ends up at Mars, with a small lunar presence. The other goes straight to ELEO, and beyond!
    BTW, I am perhaps too proud of being one of the first 100 to join SSI!
    (edit: it was advertised in L-5 News)

  16. That is almost by accident. Musk only very recently started including lunar ISRU, maybe!, in his plans. He had Mars or Mars “moon” ISRU all along. That is insanity!
    (edit: two trains on the same track for a while does not mean they are both the right train!)

  17. Look, I like O’Neil colonies. I’d better, I helped found a chapter of the L-5 society at Michigan Tech back in the 70’s.

    But mars isn’t the “wrong” train, it’s just a “different” train. There’s room in space for colonizing the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, free floating O’Neil colonies. And there are valid arguments for each.

  18. No, I wouldn’t be enthusiastic about that, either.

    The thing I find most promising about Musk is that he doesn’t appear to have a history of that sort of thing; Paypal’s ventures into dictating what legal things their customers could spend their own money on seem to have started after he lost control of it.

  19. Good thing RocketLabs is going reusable…they are going to have to squeeze all the profit out of each launch now with SpaceX undercutting them.

  20. If you are on the wrong train, every stop is the wrong stop.

    Unless the trains follow the same route for the first few stretches of the journey.

    In this case, the most significant and costly part of the journey is the first leg to orbit. Which is the same for both “trains”.

  21. There were similar announcements from Arianespace and Glavkosmos for Ariane 64 and Soyuz at the SmallSat conference today as well, for similar scheduled rideshares at similar prices. This feels like a big boy move to snuff out all the newspace small rockets by undercutting them.

  22. He is an O’Neill guy, Musk is a Mars guy. If you are on the wrong train, every stop is the wrong stop. Blue Moon leads to the O’Neill future. Musk’s rockets help! But he suffers from planetary bias. Hard to shake for many.

  23. Sounds like Jeff Bezos is going to be a tough competitor, eventually. I hear he’s liquidating $2B+ of his Amazon stock. He really needs to gas it if he’s going to get more contracts, they haven’t demonstrated anything remarkable yet.

  24. Yeah, like an airline refusing to sell airplane tickets to any person of a political party or ideology the left don’t like, or tag them like un-persons for their wrong think. Obviously illegal, but pretty normal on Internet wonderland.

    Which shows the ridiculousness of all the undue actions big data companies do and still get a pass, while dealing with people not to their liking.

  25. God, I hope not. Last thing I want to see is the near monopoly provider of access to space refusing to carry payloads if they don’t like your politics.

  26. One day I can see SpaceX being in the same situation that Google, Amazon and
    Facebook are right now.

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